Have you ever lost your independence? Broke an arm or leg where someone had to take care of you? Ever recover from a surgery where your every need was dependent on another person? Been a victim of a tragedy? Homeless? Losing anything, let alone independence, is among the hardest situations to change your focus in.
To me, independence equated driving. Turning sixteen was so exciting. With a new license in my wallet, and the use of my parents’ car, I discovered a newfound freedom. However, I did have a night restriction due to a vision problem, diagnosed later in college as Retinitis Pigmentosa.
Up for renewal four years later, I was still in college far from home. . .too afraid to take a driving test on unfamiliar roads. Chicken, I surrendered my license. Knowing I would more than likely fail the eye test and need to be sent to a specialist, left me full of regret.
Missing this freedom and independence daily, I prayed. For two long years I prayed, before passing my eye test from the doctor, and my driving test again. This wonderful privilege, and I do count driving a privilege, lasted ten more years.
When I surrendered my driver’s license the first time in college, my friend, Julie, helped me change my
focus. She was unaware of this fact. Hitching a ride on the back of her wheelchair, I realized my new loss of sight was nothing in comparison to her lack of mobility and dependence on others for self-care, yet complaints never crossed her lips. Little did I know back then, what our futures would hold. The year I married was the year I surrendered my license for the final time. That same year, Julie got a driver’s license for the first time ever.
Special driving equipment had come on the market and its price tag reflected it. Julie researched resources, filled out a ton of paperwork for funding, resulting in a dream come true. A specialized van would be allowing her to experience a new freedom I had just lost. Still elated for her, my husband and I took a trip to visit. She drove us on a special lunch. It was pretty amazing.
The process of becoming mobile, for her, took years, and much testing. Things had to be measured perfectly, including eye movement. All was worth it when she drove herself to church. She could actually leave when she desired, instead of waiting up to an hour like we did in college. New adventures followed. Julie has actually driven more years than not.
Out of curiosity, what’s the longest you’ve driven a car? Maintenance is tough with any vehicle, let alone with special equipment, yet Julie managed to drive her van for 23 years. Now, that’s something not everyone can lay claim to. Last year, her van finally went to auto salvage heaven.
Knowing the emotional turmoil of losing freedom and independence from not driving is why my friend is on my heart. To lose your license as I did is pretty traumatic, no matter how you slice it. Loss of independence is a major deal. Having a license without wheels sounds more catastrophic to me,, though. In my opinion, it’s much easier not to have than to have and have it taken away.
Living on a fixed income makes it impossible for Julie to buy any vehicle, let alone a specialized one. Carrying a licensed means little at this point. she is trapped once more. Freedom and independence are worlds away. The life she’s known for 23 years ceased.
In case you’re wondering if she can ride public transportation or have an assistant drive her, it doesn’t work. Public transportation isn’t a viable option. It’s a rough ride to non-physically impaired people, but for Julie, every bump sends pain up her curved spine and leaves her bruised, even though an assistant works diligently to keep the seat-belted wheelchair from rolling and Julie from bumping the arms of her chair. Even the young person driving Julie has difficulty calculating exactly when and how to be gentle. You see, when Julie is driving, She anticipates her moves, and offsets them, diminishing bodily harm.
It’s been over a year now since Julie lost her link to the outside world, yet she continues to live and move forward, rather than in pity. Naturally discouraged, no complaints leave her lips still. This is why her friends have put together a Go-Fund page called, “Keep Julie Mobile.” I’d love for you to read her story personally. It will cost her $120,000 to be able to drive again…only about $112,000 to go. Please prayerfully consider helping my friend get mobile again. She’s a gem, and worth every dollar.
Consider your Facebook friends, your church family, co-workers, any group you belong to, or any connections you might have. If 10 people can give $100, or 100 people can give $10, that would be $1,000.
Julie has inspired many. Every week she encourages through a ministry called, “Weekly Encouragement,” where she chooses special preaching messages on topics as she is led. Over 300 subscribers watch these videos to gain strength in their own lives. Let’s help encourage my friend. When, not if, she gets her van, she will also be able to return to her jail ministry. Together we’ll make Julie mobile again.
Thank you for spreading her need, praying for God’s speed in answering this prayer, and for giving what you’re able.
Question: How would you feel if you lost the ability to drive? Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below. Remember…come back to read your replies. Be blessed, and enjoy your driving privilege.
© 2017, Jena Fellers. All rights reserved.
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